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Meditation 319
No Faith Required, Trust Me!

By: Rev. Gary Lampe

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After reading Meditation 312, Misplaced Faith, I was moved to write a response.

The marvellous thing about the English language is that we have such a variety of words to express how we truly feel. And if we don’t have the right word, we can borrow from other languages. John was correct when he said he was using “faith” in the broadest definition. That definition would be as follows:

Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

However, without the qualifier of “broadest sense” one could easily mistake the use of the word “faith” in the sense that is applied to religions:

Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

John’s belief that the rollercoaster was safe was based on logic and material evidence. That belief was based on the engineers, government regulations, safety inspections, and maintenance. John’s belief could not be based on faith in traditional sense. Therefore, a better word is necessary in order to clarify his expression of beliefs. That word would be “trust”. Trust is defined as the firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.

You don’t have faith that chair will support you or that the brakes on your car will work. Your experience with these objects in the past has led you to the belief that they will work again in the future. However, chairs do break and brakes do fail and when this happens we are more cautious in the future until our trust is built up again. It is the same with roller coasters, and John might think twice before going on another.

Bertrand Russell offers another insight to the nature of “faith”. He said:

"We may define "faith" as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith." We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups, substitute different emotions."

As freethinkers, we base our decisions on reason, evidence, and experience, although emotions do tend to get in the way. However, we don’t believe that sticks can turn into snakes. That angels guard our every step. Or that we will reincarnated as cows. Those are the things that require faith. I put my trust in what I believe to be true and reject the things that require faith.

One other thing of note, while I was searching for the quote from Bertrand Russell, I came across another from Steve Allen. He said:

“God is by definition the holder of all possible knowledge, it would be impossible for him to have faith in anything. Faith, then, is built upon ignorance and hope.”